Samsung now to produce Next-Gen 16Gb GDDR6 DRAM chips for Graphics Cards

Samsung GDDR6 Chip

In the latest news South Korean giant Samsung Electronics has announced that it had initiated mass production of its first 16Gb (gigabit) Graphics Double Data Rate 6 (GDDR6) DRAM chip for upcoming graphics processors. The GDDR6 chip will use Samsung’s new 10nm technology. The new chip also uses a proprietary low-power circuit design that is claimed to consume approximately 35 percent less energy than other GDDR6 chips in the market. Additionally, Samsung has doubled data transfer over its previous 8Gb GDDR5 chip.

A 256-bit memory subsystem comprised of such DRAMs will have a combined memory bandwidth of 576 GB/s, whereas a 384-bit memory subsystem will hit 864 GB/s, outperforming existing HBM2-based 1.7 Gbps/3092-bit memory subsystems that offer up to 652 GB/s. The added expense with GDDR6 will be in the power budget, much like current GDDR5/5X technology.

Built with 10-nanometer tech, the 16-gigabit chips are faster and use less power. Also the chips will incorporate a new low-power consuming design and will be compatible with AR, VR, AI, and 8k video capabilities

Succeeding the earlier 20nm technology this 10nm class new chip will have pin speed of 18Gbps and data transfer speed of 72GBps. Additionally, it operates at 1.35V energy consumption using Samsung’s low-power circuit design. Apart from a low energy advantage, Samsung also claims a 30 percent manufacturing productivity gain over the previous 20nm 8Gb GDDR5 chip.

These new chips will be adopted by major players involved in the production of next-generation graphics cards and gaming devices, with applications also in automotive, network, and AI systems. It will be compatible to work with complex technologies such as 8k video processing, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Beginning with this early production of the industry’s first 16Gb GDDR6, we will offer a comprehensive graphics DRAM line-up, with the highest performance and densities, in a very timely manner. By introducing next-generation GDDR6 products, we will strengthen our presence in the gaming and graphics card markets and accommodate the growing need for advanced graphics memory in automotive and network systems.” said Jinman Han, Senior Vice President, Memory Product Planning & Application Engineering at Samsung Electronics.

The GDDR6 chips will make things all kinds of better for gamers. First off, they offer double the speed of previous 8-gigabit GDDR5 RAM, with speeds up to 72 GB/s (that’s gigabytes). They also consume about 35 percent less energy, Samsung says, and offer a 30 percent manufacturing productivity gain, so that its assembly lines can build more chips in the same amount of time.

This means when you use a Samsung device for pokies play it will have better gaming performance, less power drain and cheaper graphics cards. That is, unless all the chips are gobbled up by bitcoin miners. The voracious demand from that industry has pushed a GeForce GTX 1070 from a $380 suggested retail price to $890.

Samsung chip GDDR6

The new GDDR6 architecture enables Samsung to support new and higher data transfer rates with non-esoteric memory form factors. To increase the interface speed, GDDR6 memory was redesigned both internally and externally. While details about the new standard will be covered in a separate article, two key things about the new memory tech is that GDDR6 features a x8/x16 per-channel I/O configuration, and each chip now has two channels. By contrast, GDDR5/GDDR5X ICs feature a x16/x32 I/O config as well as one channel per chip. While physically GDDR6 chips continue to feature a 16-/32-bit wide bus, it now works differently when compared to prior generations (as it consists of two channels).

In addition to higher performance, Samsung’s GDDR6 16 Gb chips also operate at 1.35 V voltage, down 13% from 1.55 V required by high-performance GDDR5 ICs (e.g., 9 Gbps, 10 Gbps, etc.). According to Samsung, the lowered voltage enables it to lower energy consumption of GDDR6 components by 35% when compared to ultra-fast GDDR5 chips. Samsung attributes lowered voltage to its new low-power circuit design.

Typically, Samsung’s productivity gain means increase in the number of chips per wafer, so the company has managed to make its 16 Gb ICs smaller than its previous-gen 8 Gb ICs. The company does not elaborate on its achievement, but it looks like the new chips are not only made using a thinner process technology, but have other advantages over predecessors, such as a new DRAM cell structure, or an optimized architecture.

Samsung’s 16 Gb GDDR6 chips come in FBGA180 packages, just like all industry-standard GDDR6 memory components from other manufacturers. Samsung did not disclose when it plans to ship its GDDR6 DRAMs commercially, but since it had already started mass production, it is highly likely that the company’s clients are ready to build products featuring the new memory.

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